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UNT Mean Green Advance For 1st Time Ever In NCAA Tournament With OT Win Against Purdue

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The University of North Texas Mean Green get to keep on dancing in Indianapolis after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 78-69 in overtime Friday night, March 19.

It was their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament.

UNT is a 13 seed.  Purdue was a 4 seed.

The upset victory by the Mean Green drew praise from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

He tweeted, "Congratulations to the #UNT Mean Green on the NCAA Tournament victory. You make Texas proud!"

Javion Hamlet led the way for the Mean Green with 24 points.

UNT will play the winner of Villanova and Winthrop on Sunday.

Thomas Bell had 16 points for the Mean Green, along with some game-changing defense in overtime.

It marked the second teen-powered upset of the Big Ten on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament — this one coming hours after No. 15 Oral Roberts knocked out Ohio State.

What a great prize for Hamlet and Bell, a pair of seniors who led the Mean Green (18-9) to a regular-season Conference USA title last year but missed a chance at the tournament when the season was canceled by COVID-19.

They made sure things kept going this time.

Bell opened overtime with a 3, then altered two Purdue shots underneath to help the Mean Green turn the extra session into a laugh. North Texas scored the first 11 points.

Hamlet did most of his damage during a pair of sublime 8-0 personal runs in the second half, each of which stopped the Purdue (17-10) momentum in its tracks.

The second was a twisting, spinning, dribbling display of mastery in the paint. It gave North Texas a nine-point lead with 7:45 left.

The Boilermakers scratched back and tied it at 61 on Trevion Williams' putback with 21 seconds left.

But overtime was no contest, and when it ended, Hamlet tossed the ball into the sparsely filled stands at Lucas Oil Stadium, raised his hands above his head and exited, stage right, to the locker room.

This marked the first tournament win in the history of North Texas, the team once known as the Eagles, that officially adopted "Mean Green" as its nickname in 2000.

The moniker first became a thing when a fired-up cheerleader got creative at a football game in the late-'60s; it was then brought more into the fold when Hayden Fry, the folksy ballcoach who went on to greater fame at Iowa, came to the campus in Denton a few years later.

But there was no bigger name on this night than Hamlet.

He made all eight of his free throws and also had 11 rebounds and five assists.

His 8-footer with 2:24 left in OT made it a seven-point game and turned the end into a free-throw-shooting contest.

Which North Texas won, too.

Jaden Ivey led Purdue with 26 points.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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